If one were to lose their way on the Redding Trail, a hard day's walk from the foothills of the Shining Peaks, and stumble amongst the great boughs of the Ebenleaf eastward, they may come to the mouth of a valley surrounded by sheer granite ridges east and west, and densely wooded slopes north and south. Thinking no more of it, the wanderer would press on, seeking a more hospitable shelter, never knowing they had gazed upon the homes of the Eben elves of Shalizan.
Willowy and thin, elves are as tall as humans. Their overall body type is rangier, however, and they seem to exude a natural gracefulness with every movement. Elven skin color can range from pale to golden brown and almost all elves choose to wear their hair long. The one physical feature that sets elves apart from the other races is their ears. Overly large, the elven ear finely tapers to a point and gives the elf unparalleled listening abilities.
There are two distinct types of elves: the Eben elves and the Seren elves. Their differences are not so much racial as they are social for both elves are brethren in origin, even though they choose to live apart. The Ebenleaf community is the larger and more receptive of the two, while one will not find the Serenwood tribes unless allowed. This difference is also reflected in their respective attitudes towards the world and the other races. Despite their inherent differences, however, the two groups of elves will always come together when threatened with a common enemy. This is the elven way, and perhaps their greatest difference from the humans.
The city of Nafallir, as the Eben elves call it, is found in the trees of Ebenleaf. It rivals the greatest of human cities in size and complexity. Nearly a thousand such buildings span the treetops, and at night from far off one may see - if they are able to pierce the veil of illusions - lights flickering as a swarm of dancing fireflies.
The elves of Shalizan came to dwell in their forest homes many years ago. The telling of that story is long and though some in Nafallir have been known to tell it in full, here is only a brief transcript.
When the humans called the Shar first arrived in what was to become Shalizan, the various tribes of the area were not the only ones to know of their coming. The elves in the far west too, after some years, heard tell of the remarkable humans to the east. For a time they were content to wait, but there came a stage where a more direct form of observation was required.
Several companies of elves, led by Talasal, a great elf lord, were sent by their leaders to investigate the Shar people, their way of life, and any threat they may pose to the continent. After a perilous journey the elves arrived in the eastern part of the continent, the land that would soon be conquered by the Shar. Hidden in the great Ebenleaf forest, the elves witnessed the building of Shalizar, the massing of the legions of the Shar, and the rapid human settlement of the lands.
The elves did not desire conflict with this new breed of human and they withdrew to the far reaches of the forest where they would be undisturbed. There they founded a home where they would dwell: Nafallir.
After initial contact with the elves the Shar found they had little interest in these strange, demi-human creatures and the forest they lived in, and they left the elves alone. Still, chance meetings with some of the humans did occur, especially those akin in belief to the elves - those who would go on to form the Circle of the Panther.
A second expedition of elves came from the west during this time. After initially meeting up with the Eben elves, this expedition decided to instead settle in the Serenwood forest to the south to keep watch over the Sharran activities there. Over time this community of Seren elves, as they came to be known, changed perceptibly from their brethren. Seren elves were rougher, more prone to action. Much to their distaste, they found that human logging activity was more prevalent in the Serenwood. Where the Eben elves could remain neutral, several Seren elves were engaged in isolated skirmishes with Sharran loggers and other intruders in those early days.
Still, time passed, as it does. Both elves learned much of their new neighbors, watching from the shadows of the trees. All seemed well - until the Vampyres stirred and raised their legions of the dead.
Eben scouts first reported the sightings along the northern borders of the Shining Peaks. The Eben elven council, lead by Talasal, wasted no time and took a company of the finest archers to meet the undead, hoping to crush them before they amassed the greater force. The company of elves was ill-prepared for the size and swiftness of their opponents' march across the wastes and were caught, pinned between the horde and the Shining Peaks. Seeing no other choice but to retreat, they withdrew to the forest and its welcoming safety. From there the elves could only hide and conduct guerilla warfare along the undead flank and logistical lines whenever possible. Yet for all their swiftness and stinging forays the undead seemed to be unstoppable.
Further south, the Seren elves found their forest completely overwhelmed by the main forces of the undead army. Because of their proportionately smaller numbers, the elves were forced to retreat high into the passes of the foothills of the Shar Mountains, where they staved off waves of undead without any help. Many Seren elves perished during fierce fighting in the mountains and many more starved during the long winter they were forced to hide in the mountains.
Back in the valley the undead horde had reached Shalizar and had the city under siege. The Eben elves and their allies they had found in the Circle of the Panther continued their attacks on the northern flank as best as they could. Such was their effectiveness that a great captain of the undead was sent against them. Shalzak the sorcerer lich came with thirty thousands of undead to crush the impudent elves. He drove the elves back into their woods mercilessly and for many long months they battled. Elven archery proved superior and finally the undead were overcome and their leader destroyed utterly by Talasal, who gave his life in the deed.
Free from the horde, the elven warriors arrived at the Siege of Shalizar near its finality. Expecting to help the humans, they instead found themselves cursed at and spit upon. The humans had seen the others come to their aid: the dwarves, the gnomes, and even the halflings had all given their all for the besieged city and its people. Yet the elves had fought under the cloak of tree, unknown to the others. For this the Shar were furious - in their eyes, the elves had abandoned the Empire and in its hour of greatest need. Among most of the Shar, this transgression, however incorrect, has yet to be forgiven.
Knowing full well the fickle mind of humans, the Eben elves withdrew. Finding somewhat of a solace in the crime they did not commit, they go about their lives and tasks without disturbance, and their relationship with the Circle of the Panther allows them ways to obtain that which only the Shar can provide. Nafallir is still open to those who wish to visit, but few Shar feel compelled to seek the company of an elf and the Sharran government has no officially sanctioned relations with the Eben elves.
The Seren elves perhaps lost the most during the Great War. They still live in their hidden enclaves in the Serenwood, although their numbers are greatly diminished. To this day, they have little to no contact with humans, aside from members of the infamous Nightshade Wreath. To the great irritation of the Sharran government, the Seren elves are openly hostile to humans that venture too far into the depths of the Serenwood. However, there are far too many other issues for the legions to deal with presently and any Lantar who attempted to put down the Seren elves with force would certainly find himself with a fight he would not want.
A few over three thousand elves abide in the valley and some are from the original companies that set out to witness the arrival of the Shar. Others are recent arrivals from their western home, and still others have been born into the community during this interim time. The Circle of Elders govern the community, not interfering in many of the day to day affairs of their folk, but in times of need the populace looks to these respected people for direction and well being.
In general, the elves of the Ebenleaf are a closely knit community of peaceful people, content to live their lives in the forest, undoing some of the damage the Vampyres brought during the War, and protecting themselves from the unwanted attentions of others in the region. They are a patient folk, willing rather to wait and observe than rush in and do before things have been fully explored. They usually allow events to come in their own time, unless an immediate threat is posed to them and theirs, or a matter of great importance decrees otherwise.
They put great store in gracefulness, and many of their dwellings have been made to appear as if they are formed from the trees themselves. Song, dance, meditation and natural beauty all take much of their time and joy, though in recent years time has been less spent on those than on matters of war, and while most elves realize it is necessary, they would much rather do without it.
Nafallir and the Ebenleaf itself provides all the Eben elves need, apart of the odd item which the Circle of Panther will help procure from the more industrious Sharran people. They elves take from the forest their daily needs, their food and drink, leather for their clothes and armor, wood for fires and bows, though are careful not to use over much, as the priests of Brandur tell them.
There is little in the way of politics within the different religious groups, the gatherings being so small and vital to the community that such ways do nothing but hinder the elves as a whole.
Other Races' Views of Elves
Elves and humans do not currently enjoy a good relationship, although it was not always this way. Most humans consider the elves to be traitors who abandoned the Empire while it was in peril, when all the other races came together to defeat the Vampyres and their army. The elves know this isn't true, but are resigned to the perception of the humans - man is forever stubborn. Most humans and elves do not mix, aside from those in the Circle of the Panther and the Nightshade Wreath.
Those of elven blood and heritage almost uniformly ignore gnomes and vice versa. They consider the Nurminen to be little more than strange creatures in pursuit of elusive goals and dubious instruments.
Half-elves tend to treat elves coldly, and the feeling is mutual. There are some exceptions, notably those in causes found worthy by the elves, such as the Circle of the Panther.
The relationship between dwarf and elf is even worse than between human and elf. The age old scars from long ago in the two races' histories have not healed, and a lingering resentment remains in the hearts of the dwarves for their estrangement. Compounding this is the dwarves' loyalty to the Shar and their tendency to mimic the views of the humans.
Elves and halflings have had little historic interaction. They regard each other neutrally.
A player character elf can be a cleric, fighter, wizard, thief, or ranger.
Elven characters have 90% resistance to sleep and all charm-related spells. This is in addition to the normal saving throw allowed against a charm spell.
When using a bow of any sort other than a crossbow, or when using a short or long sword, elves gain a bonus of 1 to their attack rolls.
Aranthan Elves have infravision allowing them to see in the dark.
Secret doors (those constructed so as to be hard to notice) and concealed doors (those hidden from sight by screens, curtains, or the like) are difficult to hide from elves. Merely passing within 10 feet of a concealed door gives an elven character a one-in-six chance (roll a 1 on 1d6) to notice it. If actively searching for such doors, elven characters have a one-in-three chance (roll a 1 or 2 on 1d6) to find a secret door and a one-in-two chance (roll a 1, 2, or 3 on 1d6) to discover a concealed portal.
As stated previously, elven characters add 1 to their initial Dexterity scores, and they deduct 1 from their initial Constitution scores.